MARTIN Olsson says he will go into next week’s UEFA Under 21 Championships feeling ready for another stint of first-team football with Blackburn Rovers next season.
The Swedish left-back will be Rovers’ only representative at the under 21 tournament after Matt Derbyshire, who was expected to represent England, pulled out because of injury.
Olsson is determined to help his country to glory - particularly as the championships are taking place in his homeland - with Sweden’s first group match against Belarus now just eight days away.
And the 21-year-old also has his sights set on forcing his way back into the Rovers first team next season after a lengthy spell in the side during Paul Ince’s reign,.
But he appreciates that he faces experienced competition in Stephen Warnock and Gael Givet - if the Frenchman makes his loan deal permanent as expected.
“Of course, every week I want to play," Olsson said.
“If I don’t play, I won’t be upset but I’m just going to do my best and we’ll see. Of course I’m always ready.
“Warnock has been playing well and Givet has been doing well as well. When my chance comes I FROM BACK PAGE have to take it.
“I’m still young but hopefully next season I will be ready for it.”
The former Hogaborgs junior, who moved to Ewood Park three years ago, enjoyed a season that saw him make 15 first-team appearances and score in the Carling Cup against Everton.
He came on as a late substitute for the retiring Tugay in the final match of the season against West Bromwich Albion but has not started a league game since his sending off for two bookings at Tottenham in November – a month before Sam Allardyce replaced Ince at the helm.
Olsson, whose mother hails from Kenya and whose twin brother Marcus plays for Swedish side Halmstads, had been hoping to get a start once Rovers’ safety had been secured but is prepared to take a patient approach at Ewood.
“It has been hard this year,” he said.
“I scored but it has been hard as well, playing against the big four - teams like Liverpool.
“But I’ve played a few games now and it’s always good to play against the big four because that’s where you learn more things.
“I’m grateful for getting these chances already to play in a few games against big teams.
“I didn’t even know that I would play this season, so I feel good that they gave me the chance.
“I’ve got Warnock and Gael in front of me but I’m still young. I’m not stressing that I have to play.
“Even if I’m in the stands, I always look at what Warny or Gael does and learn from them.
“International wise, first of all it is the Under 21s at the European Championships and then of course I want to reach Sweden’s first team.
“But I won’t stress about that either.”